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Grandma Is 'Dreading' Christmas Because Her 'Irritating' 3-Year-Old Granddaughter Has To Be 'The Center Of Attention'

Photo: Kues, Rodica Vasiliev / Shutterstock; Canva Pro
Grandma annoyed by irritating toddler granddaughter at Christmas

Christmas is about many things, but chief among them is children. The excitement of Santa Claus, the fulfillment of Christmas wishes, and the making of memories paint a perfect Norman Rockwell picture.

Unless that is, you're a certain grandmother out there who wrote into an advice column because her three-year-old granddaughter has already ruined her Christmas before it's even begun. 

The grandma said she is 'dreading' Christmas because it's all about her irritating toddler granddaughter.

We've all known an annoying, spoiled brat, and nothing brings out the worst in some kids quite like Christmas.

It's easy for all the festivities and busyness of the season to curdle a kid's mood, and that's before we even get to the way the greed inherent to the holiday turns some children into ungrateful nightmares.

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But none of those justifiable complaints are why granny's nose is out of sorts. It's not her three-year-old granddaughter's misbehavior that has her wishing it could be January already, or her ill-mannered lack of gratitude. It's that she, you know… acts like a toddler, doing toddler things.

The grandma said her 3-year-old granddaughter is loud, talks too much, and always has to be 'the center of attention.'

"My 3-year-old granddaughter is unable to be around others without being the center of attention!" she wrote to long-running advice columnist Amy Dickinson, known as Ask Amy

"If adults try to have a conversation she interrupts continuously, and if she has nothing to actually say, she just makes loud noises. It is beyond irritating."

   

   

It's left her unsure "how to survive 10 days" of her granddaughter's energy given that even phone calls with the tot "make me crazy." 

Anyone who's spent any time with a toddler can probably identify with how she's feeling. But it's hard not to feel like this woman's expectations of her granddaughter are... well, entirely divorced from reality, to put it bluntly!

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Attention-seeking behavior is a normal part of being a toddler, and many people were astonished by the grandma's lack of patience for it, including Ask Amy.

I'm not a parent or a grandparent but I am an uncle several times over, and if I had to pick three things to describe your average garden-variety three-year-old they would be:

  1. Loud
  2. Talks too much
  3. Always has to be the center of attention

That's, like, a toddler's entire raison d'etre

Attention-seeking behavior is not only normal, it's also quite literally part of a child's development. And while psychologists say it can sometimes be an indicator of trauma, neglect, mental health conditions, or ADHD, it's most often due to boredom, loneliness, or because a kid just doesn't yet know how to properly communicate their needs

Grandma Is Dreading Christmas Because Her 3-Year-Old Granddaughter Has To Be The Center Of AttentionPhoto credit: @ambernoelle, @EmilySturge / X

Being normal doesn't mean she's not annoying, however. Every time I go visit my brother's kids I have to at some point "go take a phone call" in the basement just to catch my breath and hear the sweet sound of them not speaking to me for a few moments. But Dickinson, and many online, felt the real problem here was the grandma's expectations.

As writer Amber Sparks put it in a tweet, "Ma’am, are you aware that toddlers are barely past the feral stage? She is not going to contribute to a conversation nor stop trying to be the center of attention, I’m sorry." Pretty much!

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Dickinson suggested combating the three-year-old's attention-seeking behavior with activities and gentle corrections.

"Children learn not to do this through a combination of repeated reminders and distractions," Dickinson wrote. She suggested telling the child "You need to wait your turn" when she interrupts and to plan lots of "helping out" tasks and activities to keep the little girl stimulated and engaged.

Ultimately, Dickinson recommended the grandma reframe her expectations of what the visit would be. "You would not dread this visit so much if you reframed your orientation," Dickinson wrote. "This will not be a mother-daughter visit between you and your daughter, but a Christmastime visit with your granddaughter."

Psychologists have similar recommendations. They say that attention-seeking behavior usually means a child needs more stimulation or challenges, and that simply trying to ignore it tends to only make it worse.

   

   

And in a sign of the times, they also say a toddler's behavior frequently stems from their parents' behaviors, with parents disappearing into their cell phones being one of the chief culprits that makes a kid feel they need to act out for attention.

"I hope you will find ways to bond with this little girl that will make this visit memorable for both of you," Dickinson said in closing. "Gentle corrections, reminders, and activities will help the child. Relaxing your expectations will help you."

Sound advice when dealing with kids who are just barely this side of the untamed animal stage!

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice, and human interest topics.